'The further you get from a point in your life, the easier it is to remember yourself as something exaggerated from what you actually were. That one time you did that one thing may have been tougher than you think it was. Having said that, there is no reason you shouldn’t try to be what you once were and do what you once could.' --Ben Dawson
5:27. That's the fastest mile split that I have on record in my 5+ years of run data. I came across that split while constructing my monthly mileage chart about a month ago, and the idea of it is still stuck in my head. That mile came in 2009 -- a year that I ran two marathons over the course of six months. In my current state (twelve pounds heavier than 2009 and struggling to run 10 miles at a time) it's difficult to accept the reality I'm currently facing -- that I'm nowhere near as fit as I was a two and a half years ago (or even nine months ago).
For those of us whose collegiate athletics experience involved a ping pong table and the occasional keg stand pushup competition, our athletic peak likely happened in high school. Much like kleph, I ran respectable times in high school track but was neither a standout nor a distance runner (my bests were something like 2:05 in the 800 meters, 40.5 in the 300m hurdles). I can pretty easily accept the fact that I'll never run 800 meters under 2:30 or so ever again (I can also easily accept that I'll never drink like I did in college again). At this point in life I view these fitness indicators as neither attainable nor relevant to my interests.
What's far more bothersome are the more recent PRs -- the ones that happened while I've lived in DC. The runs whose routes I still run four or five times a week (EXAMPLE: the 10 mile route that I ran this past Sunday at 9:30 pace was covered one September evening in 2009 at 7:20 pace). These were runs that felt light when I ran them, without the heavy, feel-your-ass-reverberate-with-every-step movements that I'm dealing with now. What I miss are compression tights that didn't have a few rips in the Lycra from just a bit of over-stretching.